Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Ransom Hall

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Institution Name: Kenyon College
Original/Historic Place Name: Alumni Library
Location on Campus: 106 College-Park St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1910original construction Schweinfurth, Charles
Designer: Charles Schweinfurth
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Romanesque revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance:
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone
Roof: composite (hidden behind a cornice)
 
Function:
1910-1962library
1962-present (2006)administration
 

Narrative:
Ransom Hall sits on the site of Kenyon's first separate library building, Hubbard Hall, erected in 1886 and burned to the ground on New Year's Day of 1910. Fortunately, much of the book collection was stored in the fireproof Stephens Hall, a group of stack rooms added to the rear of the building in 1900. Alumni Library, designed by architect Charles Schweinfurth (then the College's "supervising architect"), took Hubbard Hall's place within the year. The building's most distinctive feature is the Norton Room, which served as the reading room while the structure was a library and now serves as the admission's office's "living room." The double-height space features Gothic-style windows on three sides and a ceiling decorated with carved beams. Stained glass medallions in the windows represent famous bookplates. The lower walls of the room are encased with bookshelves, and the spaces between the windows on the upper walls are hung with portraits of noted alumni and others who have been important to the history of Kenyon.

After the building was decommissioned as a library in 1962, it was renamed Ransom Hall in honor of John Crowe Ransom, the poet, critic, long-time College faculty member, and founding editor of The Kenyon Review. Along the building's roofline, several crow sculptures by Peter Woytuk, installed in the 1990s, evoke a visual pun on the poet's name.

The current condition of the building is good. Because it is the home of the admissions office, Ransom Hall is a high-traffic, high-visibility structure that receives regular attention. It does, however, require retrofitting to allow for access for people with physical handicaps.
 

References:

Greenslade, Thomas Boardman. Kenyon College: Its Third Half-Century. Gambier, OH: Kenyon College, 1975.

Siekkinen, George. Kenyon College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1975.

Stamp, Tom. "This Will Do." Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin 22, no. 1 (Spring 2000).

 

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Last update: November 2006